Two new members will join the Albany County School District No. 1 board this December after winning their elections Tuesday.
Beth Bear, the aquatic invasive species coordinator for Wyoming Game and Fish, earned the most votes of any candidates for the three open spots representing Area A, which encompasses Laramie’s city limits.
The mother of two children in the district earned 30 percent of the votes cast in that race.
Bear said she was “completely humbled and honored” by the result.
She said she looks forward to “keeping our schools as safe as possible and making sure all our programs thrive.”
“The school board is headed in a really great direction. I’m excited to keep moving us forward in a really positive direction,” she said.
Earning 22.6 percent of the vote among Laramie’s four candidates, Nate Martin will also join the school board.
Martin doesn’t have children in the district and said last month he decided to run for school board after witnessing the Legislature recently cut K-12 funding in consecutive years.
Martin is the director of Better Wyoming, a nonprofit that promotes liberal politics through articles Martin writes.
At the League of Women Voters’ school board forum, Martin said school board members should be on the forefront of lobbying the Legislature not to make further cuts.
After securing a spot Tuesday on the board, Martin said he’s pleased to begin working, especially after having “so many good interactions” with teachers and other staff while campaigning.
“Obviously I’m happy,” he said. “The thing I’m excited about most is working with teachers, counselors, parents and students and students to find ways to improve Albany County.”
School board chair Janice Marshall, who also secured re-election Tuesday in a uncontested race, said she looks forward to working with Martin and Bear to keep improving the district.
The two newcomers’ campaigns were helped by the decision of long-time school board member Dona Coffey not to see re-election.
“We’ve done so much work with our policies and our strategic plan … and we’ll continue to stay student-focused and teacher-empowered,” she said. “It’s just a joy to do this work.”
Janice Marshall, formerly an at-large candidate, switched to run for Area B this year after fellow board member Ken Cramer, and current Area B seat-holder, decided not to run for re-election.
After owning Cross County Connection for 37 years, Cramer sold the business this spring and retired. Cramer said the decision not to run for re-election will allow he and his wife greater opportunity to travel.
Cramer attended his final board meeting Wednesday night. In an emotional farewell, Marshall praised Cramer for his thoughtful decision-making as a board member, as well as his generosity to the district as a business-owner.
Like other board members and administrators, Cramer expressed pride in the progress the district has made in the last few years. He said he might have considered running again if he didn’t have as much faith in the district.
Incumbent Jason Tangeman secured also re-election and the final open seat for Area A on Tuesday. He said he’s happy to be able to continue working for another four years “with the administration and working on solutions to our budget issues.”
Of the four Area A candidates, Jason Satkunam was the only one not to secure a spot on the board.
“I had a blast campaigning. I talked to a lot of people in the community and got a lot of positive feedback going forward,” he said.
He is also a parent of ACSD No. 1 students and works at the University of Wyoming Police Department.
Satkunam said he’d like to run again. He expressed confidence that, in the meantime, the board will address his top concerns, including the support of teachers.
Incumbent Lawrence Perea secured re-election for the board’s one open at-large seat. He defeated challenger Robert Mobley by more than 1,000 votes.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity and thankful to the community for voting me in again,” he said. “I want us to become the best school district in the state because it think we have the potential.”